Educational Interpreting: The Role Of Educational Interpreters

educational interpreting


With a growing diverse population in the US, the demand for interpreters in the educational setting has been increasing in the past years. This diversity has allowed for the growth of the educational interpreting field in the form of spoken-language interpreting and sign language interpreting. 


Interpreting in schools and other educational settings is suited for students who are hearing impaired, deaf, or speak another language. Additionally, educational interpreting can be offered to the parents or family members of the students, who speak a different language. In fact, there are roughly 60 million people over the age of 5 in the US that speak a language other than English at home, out of which approximately 25 million speak English less than ‘very well’ (US Census Bureau, 2015).


Whether the interpreters are needed to convert to ASL (American Sign Language) or other spoken languages, it is important to understand what exactly the role of educational interpreters is in the school setting. 




What is the role of an educational interpreter?


In the classroom, educational interpreters assist communication to deaf, hard of hearing, or foreign-language students. They interpret teachers’ explanations and instructions, and student interactions. Overall, the interpreter’s goal is that the student can fully access all sound information.


In parent meetings and other settings, interpreters assist in the interaction between the teachers or other faculty members and the family members of the students. The interpreters generally interpret conversations and instructions consecutively in one-on-one meetings where topics like student’s performance are discussed. As professional interpreters, they are trained to convert what is expressed and nothing more, remaining impartial. This allows for the development of trust between the parties.


What is NOT the role of an educational interpreter?


Educational interpreters are not educators. Having an interpreter in the classroom may give the impression to other students that they have a second teacher in the classroom when in reality, the interpreter’s sole purpose is to aid the student with hearing impairments or different language skills. 


Similarly, the interpreter is not expected to discipline the student when aiding the students. Teachers are still in full control over the class dynamics and how to manage the students’ activities and behaviors. 


In order to divide responsibilities and clarify their roles, teachers and interpreters should keep good and open communication. This way, they will be able to which helps to keep healthy and smooth class dynamics.


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